Report ‘(Re)contextualising Art: Anthropology, Art History and the Museum’

Cover of Rhoda Woets PhD thesis 'What is This? Framing Ghanaian art from the colonial encounter to the present'.

On September 28, the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam’s department of Social and Cultural Anthropology organized a seminar entitled ‘(Re)contextualising Art: Anthropology, Art History and the Museum’. During this afternoon anthropologists, art historians and curators gathered to discuss the current status of globalization and contemporary art.

Issues that were put up for discussion are the modes of evaluation to judge, acquire and display art from “outside.” What tools and criteria should curators use? Is an intimate knowledge of the social and cultural settings in which artists operate essential in valuing their work, as anthropologists tend to argue? A growing number of anthropologists study contemporary art(ists) but what have their contributions been to the formation of new art historical discourses? In short: how can anthropologists, art historians and curators come to a more fruitful cooperation and exchange?

Both art historian Gabriele Minelli and art historian Madelon van Schie wrote a report about the seminar. Gabriele Minelli’s report is published below. Click here to read Madelon van Schie’s report in Dutch.

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Extra: Article N’Goné Fall ‘The Repositioning of Contemporary Art from Africa on the Map’

Internationally operating curator and art critic N’Goné Fall has recently published an article in which she maps out the landscape and the positioning of contemporary art from Africa. Fall contributed with this article to the catalogue of Ars 11 in the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Finland, an event that will ‘change your perceptions about Africa and contemporary art’, in which also Alfredo Jaar participates.

Fragment of N’Goné Fall’s article:
“As a curator with an obvious focus on art production in Africa, I often had the bad feeling that I was seen as a wood dealer or a hyper enthusiast promoter of hand made mass-produced tacky exotic junk for tourists. And no I am not paranoid. For decades, ethnographic museums had the monopoly on non-western cultures. [...] While looking at the work of Matthew Barney or Olafur Eliasson people will never refer to their supposed Celtic or Roman origins.”

Click here to read the article on the website of GAM – Global Art and the Museum.